Police: Ind. teen had gun before school shooting

AP News
Posted: Apr 18, 2011 8:07 PM
Police: Ind. teen had gun before school shooting

A 15-year-old boy accused of shooting a student at an Indiana middle school showed a gun to a girl both teens had dated two weeks before the shooting and sent her text messages in which he said he wanted to shoot the youth, a police detective testified Monday.

The teen also made chilling posts on Facebook hours before the shooting, including one that said, "Don't use your mind, use your nine," Martinsville Detective Brian Chambers testified Monday during a hearing in Morgan County Superior Court on whether to waive the teen to adult court.

Police say the teen used a 9mm handgun to shoot 15-year-old Chance Jackson twice in the abdomen inside the entrance to Martinsville West Middle School on March 25. Jackson underwent two surgeries at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis to repair vascular and intestinal injuries. Chambers said Jackson was still hospitalized and that the bullets had damaged seven of his internal organs.

A hospital spokeswoman said she could not provide any information about Jackson.

The 15-year-old charged in the shooting, who wore khaki pants with an untucked dress shirt, kept his head down for most of the testimony and occasionally asked his attorney questions. The Associated Press does not generally identify juveniles involved in criminal cases.

Defense attorney Steven Litz wants the case to remain in juvenile court because he says a conviction in adult court would result in the teen emerging from prison worse off than when he went in.

But Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega wants the case moved to adult court, calling the shooting "aggravated and heinous." The teen faces charges of felony attempted murder, aggravated battery, trespassing and two school-related firearms charges.

Monday's testimony started with Chambers' account of police interviews with witnesses and the results of a search warrant served to Facebook.

Chambers said the teen told the girl the 9mm handgun was for her "protection" but later sent her text messages in which he said he wanted to shoot Jackson.

He posted the reference to the gun on Facebook about 12:45 a.m. on the day of the shooting. Just after 6:30 a.m., he made another post in which he said, "Today's the day," Chambers said.

Police showed screenshots of an iPod conversation between the teen and the girl the morning of the shooting in which he asked her if Jackson would be at school that day.

"I hope he shows up at school," the boy posted.

Chambers said a friend of the teen told police she had noticed he had a gun tucked in his pants one day and asked why he had it.

"He indicated he was having trouble with Chance and was going to shoot Chance at school," Chambers said. He added that none of the teens had reported the 15-year-old's behavior to authorities or adults because they didn't think he was serious.

Chambers said ballistics tests showed two shell casings found inside the school came from a 9mm handgun police found in a nearby field and that fingerprints on the gun magazine matched the suspect's fingerprints.

He said he didn't know how many rounds of ammunition had been in the gun originally but there were still rounds in it when it was recovered.

The hearing was expected to continue Tuesday.

After Monday's hearing, one of Jackson's relatives said the teen is eager to come home after weeks in the hospital recovering from the shooting.

"It's been tough on him. He was ready to be home in a week. He's just not used to being down," said Diane Jackson, the wife of one of Jackson's cousins.